LandAmerica Plans to Cut 13% of Its Workforce

It's not just lenders that are scaling back operations, the providers of title and related servicers are downsizing their operations as well.

Last week, LandAmerica Financial Group, one of the nation's largest providers of title insurance and related services, said it would terminate about 1,100 positions in the second half of this year, representing 13% of the company's residential and lender services workforce.

Already, LandAmerica said it has let go some 300 workers since July 1. Those layoffs are in addition to about 700 layoffs that occurred earlier in the year.

As a result, the company said it will take additional severance-related charges in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

LandAmerica said the layoffs are being made in response to lower mortgage origination volume and an attempt to improve efficiency.

Chairman and CEO Theodore Chandler said that the company continues to focus on pursuing its business plans despite "difficult times" in the business.

"These reductions are intended to thoughtfully address productivity while preserving our commitment to superior service. We believe these actions further demonstrate our commitment to improving our return on equity for our shareholders and positioning the company for long-term success," Mr. Chandler said in the company's announcement.

The company backed up that statement by saying that its board has approved a new share buyback program. LandAmerica said the board has approved the repurchase of up to 1.5 million shares of common stock, or 9% of its outstanding shares.

Those repurchases are authorized between now and March 2009.

The company said funding for the stock buyback will come from available corporate funds and future excess cash flow.

Investors apparently were supportive of LandAmerica's moves. On Aug. 30, when the layoffs and stock repurchase plans were announced, LandAmerica shares rose $0.06 to close at $54.20. Rivals First American and Fidelity National were down slightly on the day, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average also fell for the day. (c) 2007 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com/

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